The Supreme Court appears poised to uphold the Trump administration’s directive to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census. The court’s conservative majority appear to be in agreement with the policy, while the liberal justices are opposed. The question, which was last included on the census in 1950, could greatly affect congressional representation for states with large numbers of immigrants—including California and New York, which tend to vote Democratic. It could also affect the share of federal dollars given to states over the next 10 years, and the 2024 presidential election. Three lower courts have blocked the plan, ruling that the question would violate the provision in the Constitution that calls for a count of the population, regardless of citizenship status.
The Supreme Court’s conservative justices do not appear to share the concern of the lower court judges. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has defended the question by arguing that the Justice Department wanted the citizenship data, and the detailed information would improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh, the two potential swing votes, have both indicated their acceptance of Ross’ rationale.